Tragedy & Joy

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I wanted to write some kind of update awhile ago, we’ve just been so busy or I’ve been distracted – or distracting myself.  I don’t even know what to write now really… so much has happened in just one month.

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I think I’ll try to put it into bullet points what we’ve done or has happened in these past 4 weeks.  Sorry it will probably read pretty strange…

  • We had our adorable daughter, everything went well as far as the surgery.
  • The recovery had a hiccup when I started swelling in my right leg, and then the left leg… I called my doctor, and it was thought to be maybe the anesthesia.  After my milk supply came in and was pretty established, I took a couple of diuretic pills (“water pills”) to flush out the swelling fluid – and it worked well.  Apparently the “postpartum swelling” can be a big issue, and after we got home I began to look like I was 6 months pregnant again the swelling had gotten so bad.  This had never happened with our other two, but the diuretics worked fast and I ended up looking normal again.
  • Our little one wanted to breastfeed so often – every hour for 5 nights straight – that I actually ended up getting Mastitis in that very first week!!!!!  LOL  I didn’t even know you could get mastitis that quickly!  It was very painful but a bit hilarious – thank God for antibiotics!
  • In only the 2nd week of her life, 2 of our officers were shot when contacting a felon.  They were shot right when they stepped out of their vehicle.  One was shot in the face and the other in the chin, the former ended up dying and the latter dragged his partner to safety even after having been shot.  It was so traumatic, and both were about my husband’s age.
  • I’m in a wive’s group that supports our husband’s in their career, one I’ve blogged about here.  I’ve become an officer that deals with events – the coordinating and planning, and since all of the other group officials were either on vacation or unable to come, I had the task of coordinating getting donations for desserts, wives to volunteer, and serving the people at the funeral.  A police funeral is typically a devastating ordeal, but with hundreds to sometimes 1,000’s of officers from around the country showing up to pay their respects to the fallen officer.  Coming together like a family is so appreciated.  Everything about the funerals, though, is physically and emotionally draining and tortuous.  From volunteering for hours, to listening to the family pour out their hearts to us, to serving the army of Police Officers who have come who need encouragement, too… it is painful.  The last funeral before this I cried so much I had to actually go and completely redo my makeup before we had to serve the 1,000’s of guests.  We are in a war.  We lose officers almost every week or other week now.
  • Since I had to bring our 2 week old to the funeral to lead the volunteers, I kept having to disappear to breastfeed.  One time when I was tucked away in a tiny section of the ladies’ room where they provided couches to sit while you nurse, one of the officers who came to the funeral sat down next to me – exhausted – and started to talk.  She was part of the Honor Guard – which is the official name for the group of officers who go to the memorial services and funerals around the U.S.  She was a Sergeant, and from our city.  She knew the officer who had died that day 😥 .  For some reason, relaxing in the hidden corner of the restroom on the couch with me, she felt comfortable enough to let me know how tired of all this she was – how she felt she needed a break, that many of them do, from all these relentless funerals.  All these senseless assassination-style deaths.  I tried to encourage her and let her know how much we appreciate the Honor Guard and her love for these officers’ families.  But I could see it, too, when I was serving many of the officers face to face – they are so tired of seeing these decent men and women killed.  The collective Honor Guard are some of the best people, the ones who travel to show support and give encouragement to the families in need, but I’m starting to see in their faces just how hard this is on them emotionally to be constantly going to another funeral every other week or so.
  • Police deaths have spiked to 39% in 2017.  Again, it feels like we are in a war.  Like our husbands are deployed everyday that they go into their shift.  At the same time, it feels like we’re not alone.  The police community as a whole, is a safe place to show our emotions to each other.  At the last funeral when I was crying almost uncontrollably, one of the older Honor Guard officers came up to me and hugged me – it meant so much, but I felt so sorry that I knew I was making him feel pain, too.  I could tell that my tears almost made him cry 😥  and I don’t want to add more pain to these officers.  It was so touching though, that a perfect stranger would come to not only support us, but even hug one of the emotional wives there behind the counter.
  • I haven’t written about this myself before… probably because I’d have to write it in bullet points like this.  The emotions are hard for even me to put into words.
  • We had a second funeral for one of our officers who passed away from cancer.  We were thankful that he didn’t lose his life in the line of duty, but it still felt like an added insult to an injury.  The funeral was only a couple of days after the first.
  • Even in all this tragedy, my husband and I were invited to one of his favorite Police Academy instructor’s retirement party.  It was actually a wonderful time celebrating this man my husband looks up to and learned from.  We were able to get my mom to watch our boys so it was almost like a date night together with our tag along baby girl.  At the end of the night, his wife let me know they had felt almost guilty holding a celebration like this after all the recent tragedies – her husband had wondered if he should have cancelled it.  I told the wife that of course they should have had it!  It was good to celebrate something positive even in the midst of this.  Everyone there was focusing on the hilarious stories he had, looking at his adorable pictures of when he was young and in charge of the streets, and enjoying celebrating with him the end of a great career.  We needed that.  He did, but we all did in a way.

We’ve also just been enjoying time together as a family.  I’ve had my own thoughts of feeling so much joy when looking at our daughter, and then guilt that I’m feeling that way when our city (and officers) are enduring another tragedy.  It was nice having my husband off for a month… he missed his work and the excitement, but he had fun taking the boys on adventures and us all going out as a family for hikes and walks in the parks close by.

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Our Newborn Baby Girl!

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Still in the hospital at 1 day old

Our newborn, heavenly, baby girl has arrived!!!!!!  She is 1 week old today and we are over the moon with how perfect and beautiful she is!  Having babies and growing a family with my husband is just beyond describable how wonderful it is.

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This past week has been hilariously hard though, she breastfeeds every hour during the evening and all through the night – literally!  And our other two have decided we should now have a 3 ring circus of screams and running through the house and general excitement over her arrival.

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So this post will be short and sweet 😀 otherwise it’d probably be unreadable due to typos!

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I did want to say though, since I wrote about it before how we were worried how my uterus was handling pregnancy and if we’d be able to have more children after this baby.  The Dr. said it was still strong – no windows or tearing – praise God!!!!  We were leaving it in God’s hands and preparing to accept (really grieve) that maybe it was His decision to “close the womb,” but we were so happy when the doctor told us this in the operating room!

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My amazing husband giving me “that look” LOL ❤ 

And of course… I cried tears of joy when seeing her – I always seem to cry with my husband (he’s the one holding her since it’s a c-section) right when one of babies come out.  It’s just such a miracle!

She came just before Father’s Day, too, which I thought was so sweet and perfect. ❤

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All throughout the surgery, too, I kept remembering the verses,

“You will keep in perfect peace the mind that is dependent on You, for it is trusting in You.”  Isaiah 26:3

and

“Will I bring a baby to the point of birth and not deliver it?” says the LORD;

“or will I who deliver, close the womb?” says your God.”  Isaiah 66:9

 

And again, just like with our last baby, growing our family just creates so much more love in our marriage, which didn’t seem possible – but I love my husband even more!  Even through the fog of exhaustion and sleeplessness, the love and affection is so strong and increasing.

And just a random video on my husband’s last days of work before the baby came – him singing to our son before he left.  He is such an exceptional father…

My Amazing Husband & His Boys

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Snapped this photo when we went downtown to see my husband working our annual city party called, “FIESTA!!”

My husband is an incredible hero.

It’s not just because he wears the badge, although the courage and bravery there are not to be discounted.

It’s his strength, heart, and mind that make him go above and beyond in teaching our sons how to actually be men.

Real men.

The kind that fight for goodness and against evil in our society.

The kind that are God’s warriors and ministers – both at the same exact time.

Words can hardly even describe the intensity with which I love this man so much.

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Rodeo Fun & Life Updates

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I can’t believe how fast this year is already flying by, it’s already mid-March, and Spring Break is next week, and so much that still was waiting to get done (projects around the yard and house) are still ongoing!

Right after I got our garden 1/4 of the way established again, our dalmatian, Super, who had been leaving everything alone for a week, decided to taste all the vegetables.  The only problem was that his “taste” and my “taste” aren’t the same definition… to put it bluntly, he ate our garden!

He must not like Spinach and Chard, though.  😉

My husband had warned me that I should wait until he put a nice fence up with a gate.  But I guess like Sarah with Abraham, my impatience got the best of me, and when we were out just “looking” at the plants at a nursery, he gave me the ok to go ahead and get some, we were hopeful LOL   And thankfully it was only 1/4 of the garden, and not a whole, well-established garden that was demolished!

Watching him build a fence has been awesome, our older son is “helping” and loving every minute of it 😀   Watching my man work on it so effortlessly makes me so proud and happy.  Hopefully by next week, it will all be done and my older son and I can take advantage of the Spring Break free-time to really get it totally established again.

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The rodeo was it’s usual wonderful experience.  Back when I was in high school, and part of a dance group for our city, we would perform here every year.  Our son is interested in the sheep riding – which if you’ve never seen it, is so cute to watch!

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M y boots, watching the steers being shown.

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Kids showing their animals.

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Unfortunately, I couldn’t get any pictures in the petting zoo part, but our oldest is SO SWEET with animals.  In the petting zoo, he zeroed in on twin baby goats that were being protected by their mama goat, and she allowed him to cuddle them and play with them.  Seeing his natural tenderness with animals is just wonderful as his mom – he’s going to be a great Dad someday, and no wonder, he has the perfect role model in my husband.

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Looking at different kinds of knives and weapons.  Not like we need anymore, though!!! 😉

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All three of the guys had their black cowboy hats, even the baby!  My husband will only do black.  I obviously, love it.

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There were so many other things I didn’t get on camera because we were having so much fun, they went fishing in a little pool and our oldest caught a fish!!!

We saw cute shows and pet ponies, saw lots and lots animals and their families camping out.  Lots of country teens making the most of the annual meetup and flirting with each other – which is just adorable to watch ❤

They had a Lego exhibit, a huge tent for kids and grownups to create whatever they wanted to play with or have on display.  My husband helped our son build race cars.

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At the end of the night, at the last show that we saw, while eating a delicious funnel cake with it’s powderey sugared piece of fried-Heaven, our son actually won a Unicorn Shoe – a horse shoe that a Blacksmith made for only 4 people in the audience who would win them at the end of the show.  He was elated!!  And it was still warm when he got it!

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Called of God by Oswald Chambers

God did not address the call to Isaiah; Isaiah overheard God saying, “Who will go for us?”  The call of God is not for the special few, it is for everyone.  Whether or not I hear God’s call depends upon the state of my ears; and what I hear depends upon my disposition.

“Many are called but few are chosen,” that is, few prove themselves the chosen ones.  The chosen ones are those who have come into a relationship with God through Jesus Christ whereby their disposition has been altered and their ears unstopped, and they hear the still small voice questioning all the time, “Who will go for us?”  It is not a question of God singling out a man and saying, “Now you go.” God did not lay a strong compulsion on Isaiah; Isaiah was in the presence of God and he overheard the call, and realized that there was nothing else for him but to say, in conscious freedom, “Here I am, send me.”

Get out of your mind the idea of expecting God to come with compulsions and pleadings.  When our Lord called His disciples there was no irresistible compulsion from outside.  The quiet passionate insistence of His “Follow Me” was soken to men with every power wide awake.  If we let the Spirit of God bring us face-to-face with God, we too shall hear something akin to what Isaiah heard, the still small voice of God; and in perfect freedom will say, “Here am I, send me.”

“Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?

Then I said, Here am I, send me.”

Isaiah 6:8

Great Christians Intentionally do Great Things

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I’ve had a chance to listen to a few sermons from Chip Ingram, a man I used to listen to on my morning drive to work everyday in the car – boy do I ever miss the way he’d show me God’s character in such depth!  Listening to his voice is like hearing an old friend.  He’s recently had a series about Great Christians and specific things they do.  It’s not intended to be legalistic rules or anything, but to give you ideas if you’re serious about deepening your walk with God in this life.

One of the things he’s talked about that great Christians do, is they make great sacrifices.  He gave an example of a couple that were in China, who were doing the dangerous work of spreading the gospel there.  They were found out and the authorities came to their home asking who was the pastor – it was common there to have women actually be pastors.  The wife told them she was the pastor so that her husband (the real pastor) would be spared.  They took her, beat her, and imprisoned her.

When Chip asked the man how he dealt with that – with the anger and rage from knowing his wife had to undergo that kind of punishment, the man responded in a completely surprising way.  He said that when his wife was let go and brought back to him, she wasn’t upset or angry for the treatment she received. Instead she was reflective on what a great honor it was to suffer so much for the gospel of Christ.

I thought that example was such a beautiful picture of a wife loving her husband and God, as well.  Loving him enough to protect him from danger and harm, because of all the good he does for God.

In our everyday lives, sacrifice can seem like it’s impossible to do – especially to that extreme, but even the sacrifices that we choose to make have a great impact on our faith and the people who know us.

I remember going to my Christian school as a young girl, and my parents making sure I knew that the teachers there were making a sacrifice for us and for God by working there instead of at a public school where they would obtain more income.

I also knew that my parents made a great sacrifice financially by sending me to a Christian school.  These sacrifices I saw adult Christians make left a lifelong-lasting impression on me of what people of great faith do for God, for children, and even for strangers.

It taught me that nothing was as important as knowing God and following His will for your life.  It taught me that having that kind of mindset led to altering your life around that instead of money, success, or other earthly temporary pleasures.

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Another thing that resonated with me that Chip said about great Christians, was that they read great books.  I have to admit, I tend to love books and collect them for our personal library in our house, but I don’t spend as much time as I truly desire in reading them and re-reading them.  This past couple months of 2016, I’ve made it an intentional pursuit to read more great books – and hearing Chip commend this habit made me smile – it’s so true!  In just reading a couple of really great books so far, I’ve been touched deeply on matters of faith and how I display it.

Reading Stepping Heavenward, a book written by Elizabeth Prentiss in the 1880’s, was such an amazing little book!  It’s written in a journal style following a young girl’s life as she becomes a woman, wife, and mother.  There were probably 100 lessons I found from it alone!  Again, such an amazing read if you’re a wife or mother and want to know a true representation of what that means in God’s eyes!

And sweet Oswald Chambers!  Apparently he didn’t write many of his wise sayings down himself, however his wife took it upon herself to write down the great teachings her husband would say.  The devotional collection that is so intense and deeply thought-provoking was collected and written by his wife.  This is so encouraging to me – since I have a husband who has incredible insight into many different things – ideas and great thoughts I would never come up with, but he doesn’t want to waste the very limited free-time he has in writing them down.  Maybe I can help him there (lol)!  Reading through it (it’s designed for every day of the year to have something to read and reflect on), has been wonderful.

If you have any ideas of great books to read, books that have changed your perspective on life or God or were enjoyable, please let me know!  

 

Watching Plants Grow

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I don’t know about you, but sometimes I feel like in my spiritual life, I’m just watching plants grow.  I want so badly to do the right thing, to be what God wants me to be, but it amazes me how far off I feel I constantly wander off.

The exciting thing about a new year is all the possibilities to implement any new changes that need to be made.  Looking back on my failures and mishaps in 2015, a year I thought would be a relatively peaceful, quiet year, I’m so grateful for the lessons I’ve learned, but also sad that it took me so long to learn them.

I’ve been reading several books and learning and growing so much!  It’s incredible to be so convicted, work to make changes, but then to feel constantly like one cannot attain that perfection of spirit.  Just as I think I’m making great progress, I find myself sliding back down again and acting in pride or getting irritated by things that are trivial and don’t matter!  It’d be comical if it wasn’t so annoying and sad.

I’m learning that I can’t do this on my own – it’s God who works in us, and in His own time, and that the more I submit myself to His will, the more He works in my spirit to make me into the creature He wants me to be.  In contrast, the more I spin my wheels trying to perfect my own spirit, the more frustrated I’ll grow and discouraged.

So I’ll stop watching plants grow, and trust that He’s doing His work and finishing what He’s started in me nearly 25 years ago.

A Screwtape Letter for the Unappreciated Mom

My Dear Wormwood,

I was thrilled to hear you have been making progress with the mother.  You have a good lead, from what I hear.  She’s feels over-worked, unappreciated, and discouraged?  I’m so glad to hear it.  If you tread carefully, this can be a great opportunity.  With the kids waking her up every hour last night, we already have an advantage.  A tired Mom makes for a more emotional Mom, and an emotional Mom is a vulnerable one.

I do have a few tips.  First, aim your best efforts at her marriage.

As you know, we cannot do much with a unified marriage.  Luckily for us, a cranky and exhausted wife can do wonders to change that.  We must convince her that her husband is no longer the friend and ally she first married.  Instead, we must reveal every sin and selfish habit, especially drawing attention to his thoughtless actions (mal-intended or not) against her.

Sometimes it’s the less obvious things, things the husband doesn’t even realize, that we can use to offend her the most.  When he comes home from work and dumps his things on the counter nearest the door (instead of hanging his coat or putting away his keys), let her think of it as a direct assault on her work as a homekeeper.  When he treks mud in with his shoes, let her think it is because he does not love her.  Such extremes of thought may seem ridiculous to you or I, but to the exhausted mortal woman, it can seem possible.  Your goal is to make her think the husband does not notice, or even better, that he does not care about her efforts at home.

Secondly, do what you can to keep her focused on her troubles and pains.  Remind her how much her back aches, how draining the children were all day, and how many undone tasks still beckon her.  Do not let her wonder what difficulties her husband faced that day or whether his back might also be aching.  Valuing others above oneself is one of those silly, though strangely effective, tactics of the Enemy.  If she stops to make him a cup of coffee, the next thing you know she’ll be rubbing his shoulders and flirting with him on the couch.  It can progress out of your control if you’re not careful.

Along those lines, be sure the Mother starts to value productivity above everything else.  Have her wake up early and work non-stop until bedtime.  If the husband relaxes in the evening with an hour of computer gaming, be sure the wife notices the pile of unfolded laundry or unswept floors.  Do not let her grab a book and relax alongside her husband.  Diligence, often one of the Enemy’s virtues, when overdone can be used to our advantage as well.  Convince her that as long as there is a shred of work to be done (and there always is), no one should be resting.  Then, as she folds and sweeps and he sits, you can introduce the sweet bitterness of resentment.

A word of caution here.  Remember, the love of a husband can be dangerous to our cause.  If he senses her unhappiness, he may begin to help or (even worse) show her affection.  This is where previously planted seeds of resentment can be guided into full bloom.  Make her think that his displays of affection are because he “only wants one thing”.  Do not let her view his help with the dishes (or kisses or cuddling) as having pure motives.  If he shows his desire for her, convince her that she is being used, not loved.  As we both know, the ultimate Act of Marriage can bond them together in a way that can undo much hard work on our part.  Because of this, do not allow her to prioritize that Act on her mental to-do-list.  It is in our best interest to keep the wife busy, busy, busy and be sure she’s far too exhausted to consider it by the end of the evening.

Now, onto the children.  Lovely little opportunities for us, the children, especially the little ones.  We all know that children are a favorite tool of the Enemy.  He calls them Blessings and Gifts and calls parents to lay down their lives for them, just as his Son did.  Insane, I know.  We must convince her that the obnoxious little people she has charge of are not really worth her sacrifice.  When the Mother first dreamed of having children, she probably imagined large, innocent eyes and chubby, happy grins taking up the majority of her days.  Do your best to shatter those expectations.

Instead, draw attention to how much they take from her.  Let them take and take and take…  And need and need and need, until the Mother feels totally spent.  Let them start crying at the same time for the most irrational of reasons.  Let the noise bother her.  Let their bad behavior surprise her.  Do your best to make the day-to-day monotony of diaper changes, meals, and baths seem simultaneously overwhelming and beneath her.  Let her think of all the better, more important things she could be doing with her life, if only she didn’t have the children.

Don’t let her think about the future responsible, faithful adults she is raising.  Society changers, friends, workers, husbands or wives…  Don’t let her think of them as life-long companions who will love her, converse with her, and care for her in her old age.  Oh, and definitely don’t let her think about the grandchildren she might be able to see in their little grubby faces if she looked hard enough now.  No, no, no…  Thinking ahead to when her work bears fruit, as the Enemy calls it, is always a bad idea.  Keep words like ‘heritage’ or ‘legacy’ far away from the runny noses and jelly stains of the day to day.

If there is any last piece of advice I have for you, Wormwood, it is to keep the Mother looking to her husband or family for her fulfillment and comfort.  We know that the Enemy is always watching and willing to take the burdens of his children, but if we divert the Mother’s attention well enough, this fact can be forgotten.  Make her look to her husband for worth and affirmation.  Then, when he lets her down (as he is sure to do), she will be ours to torment.  Yes, the worst thing that could happen would be for her to turn to Him with her needs and inadequacies.  Once she realizes that the Enemy offers a peace that transcends her situation, our work could be utterly compromised.

Your Malevolent Uncle,

Screwtape

 

By Kelsey Shade, the beautiful, young wife and mother of three boys that blogs at Organizing Life with Littles!

She Can Laugh at the Days to Come

“She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come.” Proverbs 31:25

Our Fall Bible study touched lightly on a word I’d not thought much about, mirth, which means happiness, especially laughter.  

What is the value of to us as women of God to be able to “laugh at the days to come?”  When we’re suffering through something difficult, when nothing seems to be going right, or when our mental or physical strength seems to run out, the last thing we usually want to do is laugh at the trials, the uncertain future – this ability to laugh and remain joyous means we’ve found a treasure for sure!

It’s possible to live happy and joyous,

even when life is painful and we experience suffering, trials, or rejection.

 

The Proverbs 31 woman is packed full with admirable qualities, but I want to zero in on this one little verse and unpack what is so special about phenomenon and what it means.

She can laugh at the days to come because…

She has fully accepted grace.  She’s a sinner and knows it, she knows her failures intimately, but instead of being devastated, unable to move on, or guilt-ridden, she receives grace from God who makes beauty from ashes, and she is able to press on in strength and dignity, with her head held high because she’s been forgiven.

She doesn’t sweat the small stuff.  She sees the trivial things for what they are: insignificant in the big picture.  Instead of getting distracted with unnecessary worrying or drama in her life, she just focuses on living a life that pleases Him.  She is not easily moved or affected by emotions or feelings that are not rooted in Truth.

She goes through trials and suffering, but they are never bigger or more powerful than her God is.  Her faith has reached a maturity where even heartaches and crises don’t shake it, but instead prompt her to cling to God even tighter – oh that we may also have this kind of confident faith!  She is able to “stand firm,” confident that God is for her, and is not moved.

She isn’t worried about what other people think of her, but seeks the approval of God.  When we are overly worried about what others are thinking of us, if they are approving and accepting us or not, it tempts us to do things so people will like us, instead of focus on the things that please God.  It also tempts us to try to control or protect an image that we perceive we have – we’re not able to “laugh at the days to come” because we take them (and ourselves) way too seriously.  When our image depends on us protecting it, instead of trusting in God to defend us against the Enemy’s accusations, we lose our valuable mirth and become controlling, demanding, and unhappy.

She doesn’t let the Enemy play mind games with her.  She doesn’t get stuck in self-hatred, pity, or discouragement, she doesn’t dwell on these negative emotions or feelings.  She goes to God freely with her weakness and brokenness, because she knows that in her weakness, she is never stronger!

She doesn’t just strive to get by begrudgingly through life, she thrives and flourishes in God’s love and acceptance for her.  She may know the pain of suffering rejection like Christ also suffered rejection, but her heart finds it’s JOY in flourishing in God’s love.  She is no longer a victim of others’ misuse, mistreatment or rejection, but is a victor, and because of that confident victory, is able to laugh and have JOY.

She is strong and courageous, and is not afraid of people or battles she’ll have to face because she knows the Lord goes with her, and will never leave her or forsake her (Deut. 31:6).